Monday, 24 September 2012

220, Savages

It has definitely been an impressive run of late, Dredd and Sweeney were firm favourites and I was hoping that Savages wouldn't disappoint.

Chon, (Taylor Kitsch - all is now completely forgiven for John Carter considering Battleship was such fun!) is an Ex U.S Marine and together with life long buddy Ben (Aaron Johnson) A Uni grad turned expert botanist manage between to cultivate the worlds best marijuana through some of the finest Afghanistan seeds and an impressive lab in California.  The Duo are cash rich and well established with fingers in most pies including an inside money launderer, a team of ex-Marines ready to step up and be counted if needed and a shared female love of their lives 'O'(phelia) (Blake Lively) who's completely besotted with her two loaded pot growers who also, seemingly have no trouble in sharing either seem to have everything they ever need - until a devilish Mexican cartel - headed by the ever gorgeous Salma Hayek wants a piece of their action, their product and their customer stream.

Its an easy "No" from our boys who would prefer the easy life but with a history of not being said No too, Hayek kidnaps 'O' and forces the boys to deliver their goods.

There are plenty of twists and turns in this with Travolta playing the Drug Cop with almost the whole cast in his pocket and plays both Cop, Snitch and Informant.  Then there is the brilliant Benicio Del Toro - Hayeks man on the ground in California who's job it is to make the unwanted people dissapear, mostly with a combination of Axes and Chainsaws but who's role as baby sitter to the kidnapped 'O' is one he seems to reluctantly take on - coming across brilliantly as the disgruntled yet apologetic lap dog to Salma Hayek.

That's the main story - obviously the boys set about trying to get their girlfriend back in one piece and I'm sure I've already missed out a few key plot pointers but If I give too much away you wont bother to see it and its little movies like this with fab casts that sometimes slip under the radar in the wake of recent blockbusters but I totally loved this movie.

Del Toro and Hayek play Mexican bad asses like no other and its nice that towards the end you do see a bit of the softer side of Hayek, whereas at the same time - a seemingly playful Del Toro shows his true colours.  The lads are great - Kitsch and Johnson play their roles as hard-ass Marine and Science geek all too well and in a world where never the twain should meet - they pull off best buddies perfectly.  Ophelia is a bohemian beauty - quite hippy in her looks and lifestyle but still carrying off some form of hypnotic romance that both boys have bought into - and her own description of the two lads combined, together making the perfect boyfriend is quite a nice touch.

Travolta was in my mind a level below - anyone could have played this part and I felt he was just there to add some Hollywood clout, rather than talent.

The idea is pretty good - the cast is well thought out and there's enough guns and shooting to keep the die-hard action nuts happy while at the same time carrying a romantic back story to keep those less savage happy.

In the run up to James Bond, Skyfall we need a warm -up movie to get our juices flowing and this is quite a fitting way to say goodbye to those hot summer days and hello to those cold autumn nights where the Cinema makes for a welcoming retreat!

Monday, 17 September 2012

219, The Sweeney

If your a young man (like me) then remembering back to 1975 and a young John Thaw and Dennis Waterman acting out the roles of Regan and Cater for 53 episodes on your brown box TV's is just a thing that our parents spoke about.

But in 2012, Ben Drew (Plan B) and the 'Daddy' Ray Winstone don their leather jackets and arm themselves up with baseball bats and clubs to portray the classic coppers who believe that beating a confession out of a criminal is far more ethical than discussing one which ends themselves and their team in a whole heap of trouble with the ever watchful internal affairs.

I wont deny - I thought this movie was going to be a little cheesy, probably over acted and quite lame but how wrong could I be. 

Ben & Ray play the hardened cops with a great level of satisfaction and it has well and truly established Drew as a great actor along with music genius, writer, director etc - the list goes on.  Winstone on the other hand was born for this role - as Regan, he leads The Sweeney (Sweeney Todd - Flying Squad) into a ring of deceit with a plot that sees our London cops on the hunt for a murderous gang of robbers.  

Faced with an almost impossible mix of doing whats right against doing whats legal, Regan and Carter have to bend the rules (ever so slightly) to track down their suspect who is hell bent on wreaking havoc across the streets of London before escaping to a life of luxury, somewhere in the Sun.

This movie doesn't take a genius to keep up with it - not exactly billed as a dirty cop, Regan (Winstone) is definitely looking out for number 1 with a few side deals and most importantly - the Internal Affairs cop's wife spending more time in his bed than her at her desk - and as a member of The Sweeney herself - makes for some great office scenes.

Carter on the other hand is the new(ish) recruit, bathed in adoration for his elder but at the same time, carrying the clout of a seasoned officer and certainly not one to take things lying down - the pair of them combined make a formidable partnership and really set this movie off to a fine start.

There are as many laughs in this are there are beatings and its Winstone's comedic persona that gets a majority of the chuckles with any restriction on foul language being thrown out of the window and even a couple of "C"-bombs being launched along the way.  Winstone even manages to get a few love scenes that made me chuckle - especially as the "Sexy Beast" yellow pants manage to get another airing! 

The car chases are fast and furious, the gun battles and fights are well done (even if they all are worse shots than the A-Team) and the camaraderie of The Sweeney themselves is unrivalled, making for a fantastic buddy cop movie.

Its got the language, the violence and the comedy of any great British movie - and with the TV history, makes this one remake I'm glad I got to see.

218, Dredd 3D

Most of you will remember Sylvester Stallone's meek attempt at being "The Law" in Dredd's last outing - a movie that sadly lacked charisma or indeed continuity with the original 2000 AD graphic novel (which never identified Dredd directly) - where Stallone managing to de-cloak the unemotional lawman within the first 30 minutes of the movie, causing uproar from the die hard followers of the novels.

Well, a new Dredd dons our screen in 2012 with a far more adult themed and visually gruesome 3D effects which have managed take on this underrated hero adventure and restore the fans faith in the franchise.

And what a movie it is! - its a good old fashioned 90 minute action spectacular and with 3D cameras filming everything rather than it being an additional 'afterthought' you certainly get a fantastic depth of field that takes your breath away.  The Plot is simple - Mega City One - home to about 75 Million People is a mass of crime and corruption with the Judges being the only line of law an order, playing as Judge, Jury and more often than not - executioner in a justice system that's as swift as a bird in flight with none of the hassle of actual court rooms!  Convicts are shot on site or taken directly to lock-up.

Dredd and newbie Judge Anderson are called to one of the immense tower blocks, housing over 70,000 residents for a triple homicide, but unbeknown to them - this block houses Ma-Ma, a hooker turned Drug Dealer who oversees the mass production of the cities newest and most addictive drug - on capturing one of her henchmen Ma-Ma is sure he will blab to the judges so overrides security and brings the shutters down of the tower block, trapping Dredd & Anderson inside with the almost impossible task of not only now surviving against an army of potentially thousands with no outside back-up but also having to uphold the law and bring Ma-Ma to justice.

This movie is definitely not for the faint hearted - or anyone thinking that because they liked Avengers - this will tick the boxes too - this is a bloody, gory remake of a cracking Adult Graphic Novel and Karl Urban pulls of Dredd brilliantly - even though you would easily be forgiven for not recognising him under the toughened armoured exterior.  Psychic Judge Anderson is also played fantastically well by Olivia Thirlby and Ma-Ma's goons all play the part of fodder for Dredd's epic armoury with great ease.

This movie barrels along at quite an impressive pace and there are full on decapitations, body's exploding under fire from high Explosive rounds and plenty of bone crushing falls that see bodies literally 'splat' after falls of 200 stories - something that the 3D allows you to experience with full effect.

As far as 3D movies go - this will be one of the best you see and one the kids can only dream of watching but I can say - hand on heart that if Stallone's first enactment turned you off of this potentially brilliant franchise - than Urban will get you back on track!

Friday, 7 September 2012

217, A Few Best Men

My expectations for this movie were so high,.  A Fantastically humorous trailer - Kris Marshall (BT Adverts & My Family) + a Twilight bod, it couldn't fail to impress could it?

How wrong could I be!

The plot was great - a British take on the epic Bridesmaids but this time with Best Men, easily coming across as surpassing "The Hangover Part 2" this was the movie Britain was waiting for - it took the piss out of the Aussies, highlighted the best of British comedy and starred Grease Legend Olivia Newton-John.  But oh, how it died on its arse.

If you want to actually see the best bits of this movie just google it and watch the trailer - all you need is there.

Before I go to town on it though can I just highlight two stand out performances from aforementioned Marhall and Newton-John - you two were great and the only reason I stayed until the end - how I wish you had got together! (alas, it didn't happen)  Marshall proved that clumsy, awkward Brit humour isn't dead and as for Olivia - well, you just took the piss straight our of Australians, laughed about it with glamour and still pulled of older hottie to a tee!

The rest of you however - disappointing.

The plots simple, Brit boy meets love of life on idyllic beach (who happens to be daughter of senator)  Boy flies best mates to Oz for a 'quickie' wedding before they all really get to know each other and London high Jinx meets Aussie Senate family go down as badly as a fart in a lift.

The potential for this was epic! but it just didn't deliver.  Marshall and John aside, the rest of the cast were unengaged, slow, boring and lame.

The dad was sad, the new wife to be failed to grasp the 'babe' element needed to make the reasons for the quickie marriage worth while and the 'Hitler' moustache was just one step too far.  Add in the slightly odd drug dealer who's long lost dad was the chief of police and then the slightly random back story of the dads intentions for the daughter and what should have been a balls out comedy became completely unfunny.

However - it would be wrong of me to slate such a movie without acknowledging the overall winning part, portrayed by the soon to be 'legendry' actress known simply as Rebel Wilson.  As in Brisdesmaids, you have managed to make me laugh until I have cried and although playing complete muppet loser - have won me over every time.  It seems fitting that in the upcoming 'Pitch Perfect' you get to be one of the girls - rather than the character laughed at by them and as a saving grace to this movie (alongside Marshall and John) - you made me smile.

That said, such a shame for the rest of you. Ramsey managed to rouse a brief smile and the wedding speech has all the awkward brilliance of the Bridesmaids equivalent but other than that I was uninspired - come on England - we can do far better than this!

216, Total Recall

Now don't get me wrong, I am the worlds biggest 'Arnie' fan and the 1990 version of this movie has to go down as one of my all time favourites but I for one am quite honest to admit that I still, to this day, don't really understand it!

Sorry! I know for all critics reading this its a cardinal sin but I never really understood how he could flip from Quaid to Howser without the implant ever being induced?...........Well, I'm glad to say that finally, after 22 years (can you believe it, 22!) the 2012 remake has finally opened my eyes.

The new Farrell version is one of the best remakes I've ever seen.  I know the perception is they will never beat the original but that's only if the new versions don't give a recommendational (new word?)nod to their counterparts - something this move has in droves with the infamous three breasted woman appearing early on as well as a number of other references that die hard Arnie fans will see without any prompting.  That my friends is whats great about this re-make.  It took the original and just made it better.

Firstly, Its not set in Mars.  We are engaged in a post apocalyptic world with two remaining colonies - that of the empowered UFB (United Federation of Britain) Yay! and the lesser needed Colony (Australia)  everything else is gone (chemically destroyed) and miraculously, the transportation between the two civilisations take place via 'The Fall', a super, multi gravitational elevator taking passengers through the earths core in about 17 minutes, allowing the Aussies to work the UK's industrial revolution while we get rich and they get tired!

The story is (almost) identical - after visiting 'Recall' our new hero Quaid, tries to induce the chemical memory of a 'Spy Story' but it reacts badly due to an already underlying lie (that he is unaware of) that Quaid is actually Howser, (something the original never really explained) a supporter of the new government (Cohaagen) and a potential defect to the revolution.  Quaid has beenhidden in a fake marriage and job.  The fake wife, Lori (Beckinsale) as per the Sharon Stone counterpart tries to kill him (badly) and he ends up in the arms of regular love interest Melina (Jessic Biel) who knew the original Howser before Howser has to take down the evil empire and save humanity but instead of the challenge being to starve Mars of Oxygen, this time its the robotic army of Cohaagen who are set to use 'The Fall' to wipe out the Colony and take full control of the remaining inhabitable earth!

Galctic or what!

Well, if you've managed to keep up with that then I've done my job correctly as this movie by far surpasses the original.  The classic scenes including the security check with the disguise of the red headed woman and the famous "Two Weeks" quote is also identified but in retrospect to the action portrayed behind it and all I needed was the introduction of a Johnny Cab and Id have been in wonderland.

Farrell is awesome as Quaid / Howser.  The girls involved (Biel and Beckinsale) are two of the finest females on screen today and the elevator fight scene just makes you smile!  Great cameos from Bill Nighy set the piece right off and I for one thoroughly enjoyed this remake.

You don't need to see the original to fully appreciate this remake but it helps - only if its to identify with the new directors nods of appreciation to the original.

Congratulations Hollywood - a job well done.